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U.S. service members seen wearing MAGA-inspired patches at Trump speech may have violated DOD rules

Troops wore MAGA-inspired patches at Trump speech

U.S. service members attending a Memorial Day address by President Trump during his overseas trip to Japan were photographed wearing patches inspired by his campaign slogan, and this may have violated the Pentagon's strict rules barring soldiers from showing political preferences.  

Navy spokesman Samuel Boyle said in a statement to CBS News, "Navy leadership is currently reviewing this instance to ensure that the wearing of the patch does not violate DoD policy or regulations."

The group of service members aboard the USS Wasp in Yokosuka, Japan, were photographed by Wall Street Journal reporter Vivian Salama. The airmen posing for the photo all donned matching patches showing what appears to be the president, along with the text, "Make Aircrew Great Again." Wire services photographers also captured images of the same military members.

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Marines wearing badges listen to President Trump during a Memorial Day event aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in Yokosuka on May 28, 2019. Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images

The patches may not be in compliance with longstanding Pentagon guidance that dictates that active-duty military personnel should not engage in partisan political activities. 

"All military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause," the policy states. 

Examples of banned political activities include actively campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade or wearing uniforms to a partisan event. Certain political activities are allowed and encouraged — like voting in an election and making personal campaign donations. 

While it's not clear whether the crew members belonged to the Navy or the Marines, CBS News' David Martin reports that in either case, the Department of the Navy bears responsibility. 

During Mr. Trump's remarks to the approximately 1,000 uniformed sailors and Marines, he remarked that the troops assembled were "such good-looking people" that they could leave the military and "end up in Hollywood."

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